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Articles on this Page
- 04/11/14--01:00: _Architectural Arche...
- 04/14/14--01:00: _Doris Zinkeisen: Ev...
- 04/16/14--01:00: _Jean-Louis Forain: ...
- 04/18/14--01:00: _Disaster and Chaos ...
- 04/21/14--01:00: _Ernst Kirchner: Mes...
- 04/23/14--01:00: _In the Beginning: C...
- 04/25/14--01:00: _William L'Engle, We...
- 04/28/14--01:00: _Norman Wilkinson's ...
- 04/30/14--01:00: _In the Beginnig: Ro...
- 05/02/14--01:00: _Fascist Remnants
- 05/05/14--01:00: _Giacomo Favretto: N...
- 05/07/14--01:00: _Up Close: Giacomo F...
- 05/09/14--01:00: _John Harris: Sci-Fi...
- 05/12/14--01:00: _Jules-Alexandre Grü...
- 05/14/14--01:00: _George Morland, Dis...
- 05/16/14--01:00: _H.R. Giger: A Note ...
- 05/19/14--01:00: _Frank Frazetta's "F...
- 05/21/14--01:00: _Fascist-Era Paintin...
- 05/23/14--01:00: _B. Fleetwood-Walker...
- 05/26/14--01:00: _Christian Schad's p...
- 04/11/14--01:00: Architectural Archetypes, Side-by-Side
- 04/14/14--01:00: Doris Zinkeisen: Even More Elegant than Her Art
- 04/16/14--01:00: Jean-Louis Forain: Painting as Commentary
- 04/18/14--01:00: Disaster and Chaos as Depicted by John Martin
- 04/21/14--01:00: Ernst Kirchner: Messy Life, Messy Art
- 04/23/14--01:00: In the Beginning: Chuck Close
- 04/25/14--01:00: William L'Engle, Well-Connected Interwar Modernist
- 04/28/14--01:00: Norman Wilkinson's Travel Posters
- 04/30/14--01:00: In the Beginnig: Roy Lichtenstein
- 05/02/14--01:00: Fascist Remnants
- 05/05/14--01:00: Giacomo Favretto: Next-To-Last Really Good Painter from Venice?
- 05/07/14--01:00: Up Close: Giacomo Favretto's "Dopo il bagno"
- 05/09/14--01:00: John Harris: Sci-Fi Artist in Oils
- 05/12/14--01:00: Jules-Alexandre Grün as Painter
- 05/14/14--01:00: George Morland, Dissipated Genre Painter
- 05/16/14--01:00: H.R. Giger: A Note Regarding Taste in Art
- 05/19/14--01:00: Frank Frazetta's "Famous Funnies" Covers
- 05/21/14--01:00: Fascist-Era Paintings on Display in Rome
- 05/23/14--01:00: B. Fleetwood-Walker of Birmingham
- 05/26/14--01:00: Christian Schad's portraits
Well, "archetypes" might be putting it a bit strongly, but blog titles do require brevity. Here are two buildings, one characteristic of the 1930s, the other an example of a 1950s-60s fad.
I took the above photo in January of this year while visiting Reno, Nevada. The white building to the left is the former downtown Reno post office, built in the early 1930s and currently being renovated (background links are here -- does not mention the closing -- and here). On the right is the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. Its roof is a geodesic dome, but in plan view it's a pentagon whose sides bulge out as if inflated.
Some people consider the post office building an example of Art Deco style. While it does feature some Art Deco decoration, I'm inclined to place it in the category of abstracted, stripped-down classical architecture often seen in government and other buildings of the 1930s in Germany, Italy, and the United States as well as elsewhere. Visually, such buildings aren't as entertaining as those of High Art Deco style, but I find them better than the designs that appeared after World War 2.
Now let's consider the juxtaposition shown above. In downtown areas of relatively unplanned American cities, you usually can see a jumble of architectural styles including interesting contrasts such as in Reno. This can be good or bad, depending on the styles. Jumbles can satisfy libertarian philosophy or might well appear as an ugly mess. Uniformity can be totalitarian (to introduce another political metaphor) or a means of protection against something stylistically worse. Below are some examples of uniformity.
Le Corbusier came up with a massive urban renewal scheme for Paris known as Plan Voisin. A 1925 model is shown here. At the lower right is the River Seine and the Ile de la Cité, which provides orientation. Corbu's plan would have taken out a large swath of streets and structures north of the river and replaced that with a uniform set of high-rise structures. Lower buildings would be placed close to the Seine. At the lower left of the image we see that arcaded rue de Rivoli structures across the street from the Louvre would also have modernist replacements. To me, this would have been capital-T Totalitarian.
The Eden Project, shown above. For what it's worth, I consider it ghastly.
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898-1991) was born in Scotland, but like many others, made her career in England. Her sister Anna was also an artist, perhaps a better one. Doris' Wikipedia entry is here.
From what I can tell from photographs and portraits, the young Doris was a real beauty. More beautiful than many of her paintings, I have to say.
Zinkeisen's subjects ranged from portraits to social scenes to wartime art, the latter being rather sketchy, given the circumstances.
Portraits by Zinkeisen...
Here and there...
She got the basic shape of the Dakota nearly correct, but couldn't depict the rounded fuselage correctly. Drawing mechanical objects is difficult for many otherwise competent artists.
Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931) forged a successful career as a painter and illustrator, though he is not very well known today. His Wikipedia entry mentions that he was a friend of Degas (not always an easy task) and followed or admired by Lautrec. The article classifies his art as Impressionist, though I can't quite buy that. Rather than focusing on effects of light and color, his work strikes me as being closer akin to that of a sketch artist -- setting down that kind of impression.
Forain was happy to depict both French society's highlights and lowlights -- from courtroom scenes to fancy dress occasions, often with satirical intent. This link has a lengthy commentary on an exhibit of Forain's work that took place a few years ago, and offers another perspective regarding his work.
In the gardens...
Here and there...
... and some portraits
"If it bleeds, it leads" is an old newspaper saying, a comment on the taste of the general public when it comes to news. That's just human nature: how much might daily circulation increase if the top front page headline stated "Crocuses are Now Blooming?"
Before the advent of photography and even after, painters had the option of depicting scenes of mayhem and destruction. One artist who did quite well at this was John Martin (1789-1854). A lengthy Wikipedia biographical entry on him is here. In 2011-12 Martin was the subject of an exhibition at the Tate Britain, in London.
Actually, Martin's painting were more epic than gory, as can be seen below.
This painting was badly damaged in the 1920s and required a restoration much more extensive than usual, as this Guardian piece indicates.
Painted not long before Martin suffered a debilitating stroke.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) threw himself into modernist painting styles and the related bohemian lifestyle, making a name for himself as an Expressionist, Fauvist and (organizationally) Die Brücke artist. Considering the generation he was born into, this is understandable. It also meant that his art usually wasn't very good and, from my point of view, is destined to increasingly become a matter of historical curiosity.
A lengthy Wikipedia entry is here, detailing his fragile mental and physical state, numerous visits to sanitariums, and ultimate suicide.
I think this series of paintings is the most interesting of his earlier works.
His most famous self-portrait. His right hand is shown severed, though it remained intact in reality.
I suppose we are supposed to ignore the drawing and focus on the composition and colors.
Paintings of women...
Two portraits featuring Fauvist color schemes.
Gerda seems to have appealed to Kirchner, because she is drawn with more care than ususal.
Cityscapes and landscapes...
This is one of his last paintings. It's more carefully composed than his previous works.
Chuck Close (1940 - ) is noted for his monster-size portraits. But during the years around 1960, he followed the Abstract Expressionist path that was more or less expected of "serious" art school students at that time.
Useful references: his WIkipedia entry is here, a student painting (shown below) is appraised on PBS here, and some paintings from his University of Washington days (also below) along with commentary can be found here. It seems that Close is afflicted with limited ability to recognize faces, which might account for his emphasis on portraits since the late 1960s. He became crippled due to a spinal problem in 1988, but this did not curtail his productivity.
Close interests me for two reasons. One has to do with the fact that he attained fame as a modernist / postmodernist while painting what are essentially representational images. The other is because he and I overlapped one academic year (1960-61) at the University of Washington's School of Art. We did not formally cross paths there, though it's quite possible that we might have been in the basement student coffee shop at the same time on occasion. (His specialty was painting, mine was commercial art and we were both upperclassmen at the time.)
William L'Engle (1884-1957) graduated from Yale University in the field of naval architecture, but became a painter instead. A detailed biography of L'Engle and his wife Lucy is here, and a chronology here.
Although L'Engle was capable of painting in a traditional representational manner (see the portraits below), he became a run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road modernist of the 1920-1940 variety that I describe in the book Art Adrift. Not that his paintings were bad; he was a competent artist. But they were typical of his times, where many painters had to decide whether or not to accept modernism, and if they did, to what extent they would embrace it.
Like many of his contemporaries, L'Engle never quite settled on a distinctive, personal style. Instead, he drifted along, following the American modernist fashions of his day.
The "L'E" symbol on many of the images here is probably related to a source claiming copyright, which I hereby acknowledge, if that is so.
Lucy was his wife, and also an artist.
Painted the year of his death.
Norman Wilkinson (1878-1971) was an illustration all-rounder. As his Wikipedia entry indicates, besides the travel posters treated in this post, he was a noted painter of naval scenes as well as a camouflage expert. With regard to the latter, he is credited with inventing "dazzle" camouflage for ships during the Great War.
From what I can glean from viewing Images in Google, most of Wilkinson's poster work was done for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway between the world wars. The LMR's main routes were up the west side of Britain, so places such as the Lake District, Wales and Western Scotland were often featured in his work.
Not shown here are Wilkinson's naval paintings -- I might feature those in another post. For those, he used a painterly technique quite different from the areas of flat color he judged appropriate for poster work. A versatile professional, and good at what he did.
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) is best known for being one of the first of the 1960s Pop Art practitioners. His reputation was built on paintings that were based on comic book images he found here and there. (His Wikipedia entry mentions this, and here are matched examples of his paintings and their likely sources of inspiration.)
Lichtenstein spent three years in the Army during and after World War 2 and then time completing college, so his career didn't really begin to roll until the end of the 1940s. Thanks to this timing, his works then and for the next dozen or so years were the usual modernism of the day. That was what was expected by the rising new Art Establishment, so Lichtenstein was hardly alone in going along with what seemed to be a safe career-building move. But by the late 1950s it occurred to a number of artists that Abstract Expressionism and similar modernist styles were dead ends, and that something new was needed. One such new thing was Pop Art.
Below is an archetypical Lichtenstein Pop Art painting followed by some of his earlier works.
This is the largest image of the painting that I could locate.
I took the photo above in 2006 when visiting the Deutsches Museum in Munich and posted it on the 2Blowhards blog. The aircraft is a World War 2 Me109 fighter, and something is missing. The missing item is the Nazi swastika on the tail. At the time (and today as well, for all I know) part of Germany's de-Nazification required removal or deletion of National Socialist symbolism, and that included historical exhibits such as that Messerschmitt. Yet bookstores in Germany carried books about the Second World War filled with photos of aircraft sporting swastikas -- no airbrushing there.
Italy is different from Germany. And its dictator Benito Mussolini was different from Adolf Hitler. Until Mussolini made the mistake of teaming up with Hitler in the mid-1930s, his regime had little blood on its hands, and he was held in fairly high regard by a number of Great Powers political leaders and print media publications. Even following the war and his execution, his family thrived: son Romano was a noted jazz musician who married Sophia Loren's sister, and Romano's daughter Alessandra has been successful in Italian politics.
And so it is that, unlike swastikas in Germany, fasces (the symbol of Fascist Italy) can be found here and there along with essentially unaltered buildings from that era. Actually, the 1930s was a time of transition in architectural fashion towards pure International Style (a New York Museum of Modern Art term of the day). That transition was done in stages, ornament being slowly discarded. Government building tended to retain simplified hints of classical architecture, as can be seen in the United States as well as Italy and elsewhere.
Below are images from my recent visit to Sicily and southern Italy. I didn't research the dates the buildings were built, but I'm pretty sure most date to Fascist times.
A while ago I wondered if Ettore Tito (1859-1941) was "The Last Really Good Painter from Venice."
Since then, I discovered another Venetian artist who, in his way, was Tito's equal. His name is Giacomo Favretto. But Favretto, 1849-1887, was born ten years before Tito and died of typhoid fever at age 38, so he couldn't claim to be the last really good painter from Venice.
English language information regarding Favretto is skimpy on the Internet. A brief Wikipedia entry is here. More details can be found here.
Favretto painted a number of 18th century costume scenes, but I prefer his paintings related to Venice. Here are some examples:
Okay, this isn't Venice, but a setting a ways farther inland. I include it because he rarely did landscapes.
A commentary on art restoration, I think.
The title can be translated as "Susanna and the Elders," but here Susanna is fully clothed and quite happy to be part of the scene.
A view of Venice's Promenade Day. Favretto was working on it just before he died. At first glance, it seems finished, but closer examination shows that some of the background figures are only sketched in. Click on the image to enlarge.
Favretto had a very nice touch that, for me, cancels any potential criticism that his subjects lacked profundity.
As I mentioned in the previous post, a late-19th century Venetian painter whose brushwork I like is Giacomo Favretto (1849-1887), who died aged 38 of typhoid fever. A brief Wikipedia entry is here and more details can be found here.
One of his paintings, Dopo il bagno - "After the Bath" (1884) was on display in Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (Web site here). I was able to take some photos of it that are displayed below. Click on the images to enlarge. But be warned that paintings are often difficult to photograph in museums, so the focus might not be as sharp as it should be, and there can be extraneous light affecting the view.
A large percentage of book cover art for the science-fiction and fantasy genres is now done using digital media. The resulting images can be quite striking at times, especially when complex shapes overlay one another; the effects would be difficult to achieve using traditional media. On the other hand, the digital image needs to be printed in some form if an admirer wants to cherish it someplace besides a computer/tablet/smart phone screen and doesn't want the interference of a book title and other cover necessities. In any case, there is no true "original" image in the sense of a traditional drawing or painting.
Some cover artists prefer to use traditional media, oil paints especially. This is true for many contributors to the Muddy Colors group blog managed by oil painting artist Dan Dos Santos.
A somewhat older artist than the Muddy Colors crew is British cover artist John Harris (1948 - ), who worked in acrylics and other media for some time, but finally settled on oil paints because he could best achieve desired effects in that way. The best biography of Harris that I could find on the Internet is here.
Harris can be painterly or (comparatively) hard-edge, depending on requirements. Here are examples of his work.
Jules-Alexandre Grün (1868-1938) is perhaps best known as a poster artist, having worked for the great Jules Chéret. But he also painted, which is the focus of this post.
Grün's English language Wikipedia entry is tiny, so readers interested in biographical details should consider consulting the French entry.
Most of his paintings that I could find on the Internet are crowded social scenes, often containing small portraits of people well-known at the time he painted them. In a way, Grün picked up on social scenes from the Danish painter Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909) after the latter died.
Those paintings are necessarily "busy" compositionally, but Grün was skilled at it, and the works draw viewers into the details of the depicted people.
Yes, he was dissipated, throwing away an otherwise successful career through lack of financial and personal self-control. That was George Morland (1763-1804). What I find interesting is that he was a prolific painter of mostly countryside genre scenes that had little to do with his wild, largely urban life. An extensive Wikipedia biography is here.
I don't find Morland's works very interesting from an artistic standpoint. On the other hand, they can be useful documentation of aspects of late 18th century English life. Let's take a look.
Morland painted many pigsty pictures.
No fancy studio here, for Morland was trying to avoid his creditors after leaving debtor's prison.
Swiss fantasy artist Hans Rudolf "Ruedi""H.R." Giger (born 1940) died 12 May 2014 as a result of injuries from a fall. The event was met with many expressions of sadness and regret on the Internet. A biographical sketch of Giger is here, and an example of his art is shown at the top of this post.
I too regret his passing, as I do for most other people. I must add that I knew little about him while he lived. Yes, in art sections of bookstores I noticed books displaying his works. But I never picked them up or thumbed through them. And not being much of a moviegoer, I never saw "Alien," which apparently was a career breakthrough for Giger thanks to his design work for the film.
You see, I think Giger's work is pretty awful to look at. Dark, depressing, convoluted. Nothing there to mesh with my personality.
Yet there are many well-qualified observers who are smitten by his images. And I will say in Giger's favor that his paintings are technically well-done. Moreover, his intent was serious, unlike so many postmodern artists who seem to be showoffs and self-marketers rather than serious professionals (please take their statements about their "art" with a large amount of salt).
Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) is famous amongst those who pay attention to science fiction and fantasy art, this largely having to do with book and magazine cover illustrations that he painted from the early1960s on.
There was more to Frazetta than those paintings. As his Wikipedia entry indicates, his early career centered around comics work. At first he was involved with comic books, then in 1953 (according to this source) he was hired by Al Capp to work on the Li'l Abner newspaper comic strip, one of the leading ones of its day. Frazetta did Li'l Abner strips from 1954 into 1961, when he resigned. It was at this point that he began his transition to painted illustration.
Comics art is normally based on black-and-white inked drawings. Shading, if required, was done via hatching or crosshatching, though some artists relied on Ben-Day, Zipatone and other quasi-mechanical aids. A colored cartoon usually had minimal shading on the original inked artwork, colors being applied as solid areas by the printer based on the artist's instructions.
In the early 1950s, Frazetta created a number of covers for the Famous Funnies publication that went defunct with issue No. 218, July 1955. Frazetta created covers dealing with Buck Rogers for issues 209-215, not long before publication ceased. Some sources above attest that these cover illustrations helped Frazetta to get hired by Capp. His version of Rogers and girlfriend Wilma Deering are his own interpretation, and not done in the styles of Dick Calkins or Rick Yager, who did most of the work on the strip in its glory days.
Below are Frazetta's covers in sequence.
Sad to say, Frazetta's drawings here are not top-notch. Numbers 210, 211 and 212 feature foreshortening that strikes me as off: heads are too large for Buck in 210 and 212, and for Wilma in 211. Wilma's muscles are too well-defined in 213; she should be more feminine (an error Frazetta seldom made in later years). Wilma's legs are too large in 215. The 209 drawing seems okay, as does that for 214 (though the couple are too squeezed together in the spaceship's cockpit, plus being too large to fit in the ship's structure as drawn.
In other posts I've noted that Italy, unlike Germany, has not consigned its totalitarian past to oblivion. I suppose this is due in part to the fact that Benito Mussolini during the first dozen years of his rule was not particularly bloodthirsty, in contrast to the likes of Hitler, Stalin and Mao.
And so it is that some paintings glorifying him and his Fascist regime can be found in Rome's Galleria nazionale d'arte moderna, a museum that focuses on art created roughly 1850-1950 (though works before and after those dates are easily found). I think this is good museum policy because Mussolini ruled Italy for two decades and the art created during that time is a legitimate part of history.
Unlike the other dictators mentioned above, Mussolini had few problems with art done in a modernist mode. After all, a major Fascist theme was that Italy needed to be modernized, so modernist-inspired art fit well with the program so long at it didn't portray strongly anti-Fascist sentiments. Another factor was the presence of Mussolini's mistress Margherita Sarfatti, who was a patroness of the arts and did not dislike modernism.
I have touched on Fascist era painting here (Tullio Crali) and here (Aeropittura). The present post presents some photos I took on a recent visit to the Arte Moderna.
Close-ups of five of these images follow:
Hard-edge or else soft and more impressionistic. These largely sum up the portrait painting approaches of Bernard Fleetwood-Walker (1893-1965), who proudly spent most of his career in the industrial city of Birmingham.
His Wikipedia entry is here and a site run by his family is here. The latter attempts to include all Fleetwood-Walker's works, major and minor.
As you will notice from the images below, he changed his style sometime around World War 2. Through the 1920s and 30s he painted crisply and smoothly, almost achieving an airbrushed look. Then he shifted to a much more casual style.
The subject is Marjory White, his first wife.
Thought to be the artist's wife and her younger sister.
From the appearance of the woman, I'd say that this depicts his own family.
Fleetwood-Walker painted several family portraits like these.
I think this Peggy was his second wife. By this time, he had dropped the hard-edge style for something more casual and painterly.
This is better drawn than some of his casual paintings. I have the feeling that Fleetwood-Walker had trouble placing eyes on faces (see the second link above and do some sub-linking for many examples of his work). But be aware that eye placement is not always easy, aside from full-face and profile views.
According to his Wikipedia entry, Christian Schad (1894-1982) was never very successful financially as an artist. Nor was he very famous until late in life when he was rediscovered. Moreover, even though he is classed as a Neue Sachlichkeit (usually translated from the German as New Objectivity) painter, his style and subject matter were far less extreme and less political than others in that group such as George Grosz and Otto Dix. I touched briefly on Schad here.
After about 1920, Schad had settled on a hard-edge style of painting that included a slight degree of form and surface simplification and caricature. But nothing so extreme so as to fall into the Nazis'"degenerate art" category. What Schad did do was inject elements and juxtapositions into some of his paintings that made them what we now call "edgy." Today a number of American representational painters depict scenes with similar elements, though without modernist distortions.
Below are examples of Schad's portrait painting, which actually was pretty much all he did when not involved in photography.
Marcella Arcangeli was Schad's first wife.
Bettina became Schad's second wife.